ComposerBernard Stevens
ArtistDella Jones/John Gibbs/Paul Hudson/Neil Mackie/Howard Williams
Instrumentsbaritone and opera
LabelAlbany (Troy418)
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Picture of CD of the opera by Bernard Stevens in a premier recording conducted by Howard Williams Artist: Della Jones, John Gibbs, Paul Hudson, Neil Mackie and Howard Williams
Opera The Shadow of the Glen Della Jones (Nora), John Gibbs (Dan), Paul Hudson (The Tramp), Neil Mackie (Michael) Divertimento Orchestra, conductor Howard Williams Songcycle The True Dark Richard Jackson (baritone), Igor Kennaway (piano) Albany Records TROY 418 Distributed in the UK by Priory Records Ltd, price £13.50 The Bernard Stevens Trust is delighted to announce the release on Albany Records (TROY 418) of Bernard Stevens’ last two major vocal compositions. Stevens’ only opera dates from 1978/9. The one-act The Shadow of the Glen (Op.50) is based on In the Shadow of the Glen, the first play by the Irish playwright J.M. Synge, and the first of Synge’s works to stem from a story from the isolated Aran Islands in the West of Ireland. The libretto, adapted by Stevens himself, has an economy which is matched by the economy of forces: using four solo voices and a small chamber orchestra, he extracts a remarkable range of colour. The opera’s plot hinges on the feigned death of one of the characters, and Stevens underpins the whole score with the Dies Irae plainsong, rather than resorting to Irish folksong themes. The Shadow of the Glen received its first performance on BBC Radio 3 in 1983, and it is this recording (produced by Chris de Souza) which appears on this CD. A semi-staged performance was given in Dublin in June 1988, conducted by Colman Pearce. The True Dark, songcycle for baritone and piano, Op.49, is a setting of the final section of an unpublished poetic trilogy, The Map, by Randall Swingler (1909-67). Written in the last eighteen months of his life, the trilogy is dedicated to Isabel Lambert, widow of the composer Constant Lambert. In his sleeve notes to accompany the recording, Malcolm MacDonald writes that The Map ‘is a restless meditation on the loss of old religious and intellectual certainties and the alternative consolation offered by the vastness of the cosmos now opened up to human minds.’ Stevens composed the songcycle in 1974, in memory of Swingler, one of his most valued friends. It was first performed in 1978 in a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 by the baritone Graham Titus and the pianist and scholar Erik Levi.

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